Things happen for a reason.
Going into the 2011-12 basketball season, Jarnell Stokes, a 6’8 250 pound PF from Memphis, Tennesse, had given Coach Steve Smith a verbal commitment of attending Oak Hill for the upcoming season. That being said, Stokes had a change of plans and enrolled at Tennessee, leaving a void at the power forward position.
In our October 9th, 2011 issue of the Phenom Hoop Report, we wrote the following from the Oak Hill vs. Fork Union Military Union Annual scrimmage game: The latest addition to the Oak Hill roster this season is 6’6 225 PF Darion Clark of Conyers, Georgia.
Clark had little reputation coming into Oak Hill except being the AAU teammate of Damien Wilson and Jordan Adams of the talented Atlantic Celtics. Clark is a physical specimen. He has a powerful upper body with a tremendous wingspan that allows him to play bigger than the listed 6’6. While he is one of the strongest members on the team, he is very fluid around rim that allows him to finish plays in the lane through contact on a regular basis.
He is a true competitor who looks to have a killer instinct and on this day, he was on the top of his game. Clark finished with 22 points and 20 rebounds and if there was a “most outstanding player” of the game, it would have gone to him. Clark possesses a college ready frame and is a serious candidate to be an impact player at the mid major level. If Clark was 6’9, we would be talking about a high major player. According to Coach Smith, Clark graded first out of all the players on the team and he will be a key ingredient to the overall success of Oak Hill this season. In my opinion, he adds a mental and physical toughness that is needed to win games against stout competition.
Since that time, Clark signed to play for the Charlotte 49ers of the A-10 conference. For the season, Clark is averaging 6.2 PPG connecting on 94-167 shots for 56.3%. The strong and physical PF is crafty under the basket by using the basket as a shield for reverse layups against taller opponents. He is averaging 5.6 rebounds per game behind AJ Hammons and Jordan Adams while averaging 16.5 minutes per game. He is fourth on the team in free throws attempted with 94 for the season and has connected on 48 for 51.1% for the season.
In the nationally televised game against Millers Grove on ESPN, Darion Clark not only made the ESPN top 10 plays once, but twice with dunks off ally oop passes from PG Tyler Lewis. This one game showcased Clark’s ability and worth to the Oak Hill Warriors.
For the season, Clark has been a solid contributor at the PF position as he adds strength and power to the Warriors front line. In addition, Clark has 31 blocks, 28 steals and also 23 assists. He rebounds well for his position and usually goes up with two hands for his rebounds. Once he gets his hands on the ball, the ball is usually secured with the large and powerful hands of Clark. In addition, he is an above average passer for his size and position and rarely forces the issue on the offensive end of the court. He is patience and will kick the ball back to the perimeter if he doesn’t have a good shot. He is an excellent teammate and will do all the intangibles that are needed for a high level team.
Off the court, Clark is a gentle giant and is a soft spoken young man. His quiet ways are refreshing to see and is simply a joy to be around. He is an outstanding young man with excellent character traits. He is as humble on the court as he is off the court. While Clark was a late addition to the Oak Hill team, he has made the most of the opportunity that was given to him when highly touted Jarnell Stokes decided to stay at home. Sometimes, life is about opportunity and for Clark, the door of opportunity opened wide. Not only did he walk through that door, he made a choice that helped determined his destiny. Clark’s senior season is coming to a close but his value to the team is immense and for those efforts, he will be playing college basketball for free. I guess things do happen for a reason!